John Restakis has been a committed activist and troublemaker most of his life.
He was born in Athens and grew up in Toronto where he was expelled from high school (Thistletown Collegiate Institute) for general insubordination and being a bad influence.
At the age of eighteen, he started working as a community organizer in Toronto’s Riverdale area, joining the staff of the Greater Riverdale Organization, at the time Canada’s foremost direct action organization.
He then moved to Chicago to continue his training as a community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, founded by Saul Alinsky.
Returning to Canada he settled for a year in Quebec City where he washed dishes in a Greek restaurant and learned to speak French badly.
He then went on the road for a year traveling extensively through Southeast Asia and India and became an avid student of Buddhism.
He returned to Toronto and became active in the parent movement as an organizer for school reform with the School Community Relations (SCR) Department of the Toronto Board of Education. To his great surprise, he was not fired for the aggravation he caused, but he did adopt a life-long respect for the infinite adaptability of bureaucracy.
After the dissolution of the SCR by the school board, Restakis went to India to study and to teach at the Rishi Valley School established by J. Krishnamurti.
He returned to Canada to work as a popular educator and trainer in adult literacy.
In the early 90's Restakis became active in the co-op movement of Ontario. The combination of the election of Mike Harris and the bleak Toronto winters finally drove Restakis westward to take up a post as the Executive Director of the BC Co-operative Association.
Presently, he does consulting work on international co-op development projects, researches and teaches on co-operative economies and globalization. He is a founding member of the Advisory Committee for the MA Program in Community Development at UVic. and was also the co-founder and Co-ordinator of the Bologna Summer Program for Co-operative Studies at the University of Bologna.
Restakis earned his BA at the University of Toronto with a Major degree in East Asian Studies and specialist studies in Sanskrit and Classical Greek. He holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy of Religion.